Commonly mistaken for hearing loss, auditory processing disorder (APD) is a condition characterized by the brain not properly translating the meaning of sounds. It could be said that APD is a type of hearing impairment that can affect your child’s speech-language development.
According to the Nemours Foundation, approximately 5% of school-age children have APD; however, it can affect all ages.
Symptoms of Auditory Processing Disorder
Symptoms of APD include:
- Trouble listening when background noise is present.
- Difficulty talking on the phone.
- Trouble identifying where noises are coming from.
- Difficulty following directions with multiple steps.
- Not responding to questions appropriately.
- Trouble following jokes.
- Problems concentrating.
- Lack of musical appreciation or ability.
These symptoms are sometimes mistaken for other conditions, such as hearing loss, ADHD or other language processing disorders.
Causes of Auditory Processing Disorder
It is sometimes difficult or impossible to uncover the exact cause of APD. Experts theorize that the condition often stems from:
- Prenatal issues or a difficult birth.
- Head trauma.
- Chronic ear infections.
- Family history of APD.
Diagnosing Auditory Processing Disorder
There are two steps an audiologist will take to diagnose APD: taking a thorough case history and performing a hearing exam.
The case history will reveal whether the child has any of the risk factors for APD listed above. The audiologist will also ask questions about when your child has the most difficulty hearing or understanding. Talking to your child’s teacher at a Webster Groves School District school can help you prepare for this portion of your visit.
The audiologist will then perform a number of hearing tests to assess auditory processing function, hearing sensitivity and any potential issues with the anatomy of the ears.
Speech-language pathologists are also able to assist in the diagnosis of auditory processing disorder.
Treating Auditory Processing Disorder
It’s important to seek treatment for your child’s APD promptly in order for them stay on track to meet their speech-language milestones. While there is no cure or “quick fix,” there are options available:
- Assistive listening devices can be used in classrooms to help aid hearing. The teacher wears a wireless microphone and the child wears a receiver so their voice goes straight to the child’s ear.
- Auditory training involves incorporating strategies to help your child learn to hear and understand what they’re hearing.
- Environmental changes like asking people to speak slower, use written cues and sitting closer to the instructor can help your child be more successful.
For more information about auditory processing disorder and child development or to schedule an appointment for an evaluation, call the Center for Hearing & Speech today.